Over the years we have seen how cyber-attacks have left companies crippled with data leaks and offline systems. With an ever-changing threat landscape of cybersecurity and IT systems, there is a need for continuous and periodic security audits based on an exhaustive IT security audit checklist.
Security of a system is never watertight and you can always expect to find vulnerabilities and security gaps. Security audits help us find those vulnerabilities so that we can fix them. It also helps in analyzing and evaluating our security protocols and robustness to guard against cyber threats. The purpose of an IT security audit checklist is to ensure that an end-to-end security check has been done. This checklist will guide you through multiple steps and checks necessary to prod an entire interconnected ecosystem to understand the security standards.
IT security audit checklist: 8 things to check
Before beginning with the IT security audit checklist, we need to make sure that details such as the owner of the audit, audit requester, and systems details are all captured and documented accurately. Once we ensure that, we can begin following this checklist.
1. Review your company’s security procedures and policies
Having a properly documented security procedure and a strict policy is a necessity in this IT security audit checklist. These guidelines can consist of both general security steps and detailed system-specific security policies. If required, they should be updated periodically or as required. The use of these policies and guidelines should be enforced and monitored throughout the establishment.
2. Check for dedicated personnel or team for cybersecurity and incident response
Cyber threats are always looming over and in case of a cyberattack, a specialized team of personnel is required to mitigate it. The team should have security experts trained to stop attacks and secure the system as quickly as possible. They should also be capable of retrieving any stolen data or expunge any intruder.
3. Check all security patches for all software and applications
Security patches help in plugging known security flaws and bugs. Outdated versions of applications are vulnerable to exploits and offer a way for attackers to enter the system. Operating systems and all software should be updated regularly and should have the latest security patches. In addition to this IT security audit checklist, create a complete list of applications in service, and compare their current version with the latest available version.
4. Check how data is stored and transferred
Data security is a cornerstone of a secure system. There are three aspects to this: integrity, confidentiality, and availability. You need to check if data is protected from external sources or unauthorized audience. Data integrity includes ensuring that the data is safe from unapproved modifications and it is completely accurate. Moreover, data must be easily and securely accessible.
Data encryption is required in both storing and transferring data. Methods such as SSL or local encrypting local hardware are some of the methods.
Data loss prevention, an important part of the IT security audit checklist, includes ensuring that in scenarios such as natural disasters or accidents, there is no permanent loss of data. You can achieve this by having multiple, resilient, and secure backups. In case of a failure, one can retrieve data quickly from alternate sources.
5. Network configuration and security
Wireless networks are prone to attacks such as man-in-middle (MiTM) attacks and snooping. Ensure that your wireless networks use WPA2 and all networking hardware is compatible. If applicable, check how your VPN (Virtual Private Network) is working. A secure VPN should not only provide secure access but should be fast too.
Understanding VPN (Source: medium.com/@georgeswizzalonge)
You also need to check if there are any unguarded access points over the network. Scan both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. A comprehensive scan is required to find any vulnerable open access points.
Also, map all IP addresses of all hardware throughout the establishment and respective person-in-charge. It will help in pinpointing accurately the source of a cyberattack enabling quicker resolution.
For file transfer organizations generally use a secure pathway such as FTPS/SFTP. These encrypt the data while being transferred and prevent attacks such as snooping.
SFTP (Source: www.thorntech.com)
6. Review access management and control standards
An appropriate access control standard should prevent any unauthorized access while allowing seamless access to operational requirements. There should be an access control list that contains all details such as system owner and access privileges. Also, check all files and folders have appropriate access permission.
7. Physical protection and encryption of hardware
All members of organizations need to be made aware of how important physically protecting your hardware is. An unattended and unsecured laptop might tempt third party elements to steal data or plant viruses/backdoors to compromise the entire system.
Access to the hardware must be done through a strong password, or preferably through 2-factor authentication. Regular checks to confirm users should be done to detect any unauthorized access.
Data on laptops and workstations should be encrypted and removable device use should be restricted. If systems are required to be taken off-site, it should be accompanied by proper authorizations.
Encryption (Source: www.sciencedirect.com)
8. Test overall systems and firewalls for vulnerabilities
A complete scan of systems is necessary to detect and close any security gaps. This is generally done through tests such as penetration testing and code injections. There might also be open ports or connections that might be targeted. Multilevel security provides a more secure option, along with regular monitoring guided by this IT security audit checklist.
Systems need to be built with security at each architecture level. IT security audit checklist provides a comprehensive plan to stress test all systems and find any gaps that need to be plugged. Security audits by Astra Security do a thorough check of all interconnected systems and report their findings in a detailed dashboard for easy and clear understanding. You can also contact a security expert to resolve all issues. Once all security issues are fixed you also get a security certification. Sign up here and rest easy.